Editor's note: After Forbes contributor Gene Marks wrote a column entitled, "If I were a poor black kid," writer and comedian Baratunde Thurston responded with "Letter from a poor black kid" on CNN's In America blog. Marks responded Thursday with a letter to Thurston. A follow-up by Marks will appear in Forbes on Monday.
"Black in America: The New Promised Land – Silicon Valley" airs at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET on December 18 on CNN.
Thanks for your piece – I thought it raised great points and continued the discussion. I wish you success with your new book too. And I read The Onion every day.
What do I know about being a "poor black kid?" Absolutely nothing. I'm a middle class white guy. But I went to school. So I know about that. And I'm in the business of technology. So I know about that.
How can any inner city kid even have the chance to overcome the inequality that our President spoke about and have a chance at some opportunity?
1. Study hard and get good grades.
2. Use technology to help you get good grades.
3. Apply to the best schools you can.
4. Get help from a school's guidance counselor.
5. Learn a good skill. This is what I said in my blog. I said this wasn't easy. It's brutally hard. And, unfortunately, it's not funny.
Will any of these kids read what I wrote in Forbes? Probably not. I'm hoping that educators, bloggers and most importantly parents do. Because it will be very tough for any kid to do it alone.
If such useless acorns are the totality of the advice you'd give a "poor black kid" in the "innercity" (redundant code language much?), exactly what advice would you give a rich white kid in the suburbs?
To Mr. Marks and all those who agree with him. Suppose you did everything right, everything that Mr. Marks suggested, and you still had to worry about getting arrested for walking down the street? How would you hold a job if you ended up being late, because you were stopped and frisked by the police, for nothing?
Easy. I'd say to my boss, "Sorry I'm late, but some cop on a power trip stopped me for no reason." In fact I did say that, last time I got pulled over for nothing. My boss was very understanding. So was the judge. The cop got a reprimand, and I got an apology because I was willing to stand up for myself and had character witnesses. I suggest you stop taking sensational edge cases and setting up straw men.
I would just like to point out, the diffrence between everyone posting with a good story and everyone posting with a bad story is that everyone with a good story studied computer science. Maybe your bad experiences are because you chose a major which isn't needed right now? Don't be so quick to blame it on race.
All of this multi-culturalism is in every white nation and ONLY in white nations. Africa for Africans. Asia for Asians. White nations for everybody. It is genocide.
Anti-racist is just a code word for anti-white.
make sense, because I'm pretty sure that white people were behind the imperialism, colonialism, slavery and genocide that made so many parts of the world so messed up.
I find it sadly indicative of the reality of "racism" and "white oppression" in America that people who have actually lived through being a poor black child agree with Gene Marks. Foreign-born black people coming to the US haven't been brainwashed to think they are oppressed and abused, so they succeed. They have a work ethic. On the other hand, you get white people and privileged black people saying "you can't possibly understand, you haven't been there." And you have? You are making just as many assumptions as you say he does.
I am American, not foreign born. My mother was a strong woman who kicked out her abusive partner when I was a toddler and moved back in with her mom. She raised my two sisters and me with the help of my grandmother. She worked odd jobs when she could find them, and refused to go on welfare out of pride. We lived on the kindness of neighbors and out of Dumpsters for much of my childhood. In addition, she took us out of public school because she was afraid my father would abduct us. We were "home schooled," which basically consisted of checking out library books and her spending as much time as she could with us every day (sometimes half an hour, sometimes up to three hours when she was between jobs and not hunting for work).
I went back to public school in high school because I didn't want the stigma of a GED. I worked my butt off, ignored the social pressure against being a geek, dealt with having no social life, and graduated as the valedictorian. I earned a full ride scholarship with stipend, worked part time to pay for everything the stipend didn't, and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in technical writing. I'm not wealthy now. I'm not part of the 1%. But I have a house, a car, and a family, and I support my family with a middle-class income.
I expect many people will say, "You're just an exception, not everyone can do what you did." I say, why not? It's sad that I -am- the exception. The difference between people who succeed in life, regardless of skin color, is they believe they can.
Ta Nehasi Coates was poor and black, and does not fully agree. I have yet to see Mr. Marks respond to this piece, probably because it would require more thought.
Angela, I couldn't agree with you more on this.. Please when you have the time, read my post on this article..
I came to the United States on June 16, 2002 at age 16 with nothing, but a back pack and few cloths in it.. At 16 I was put in the 9 grade and was also in ESL one. Fast forward to 2011, 9 years later. I now have a B.S in Computer Science, work for Dell as a system Analyse, no I wasn't lucky, I work my butt off.. ( Oh, did I mention that I had never touched much more used a computer until I moved here in 2002?) And for those blacks born and raise in America, but still blaming racism for all that they going through now in life, I say to them, shame on you.. If that's the case, I have it twice as bad, because I'm black from Africa and have a very thick accent, but I made it into Corporate America.. Just like yourself Angela, I'm not rich, but I now live in a nice house, drive a nice car, all bills are paid on time each time each month, and still manage to put away a few dollars for rainy day.. No, I do not spend my money on " Them New Jordan's 23" I would have said those new Jordan's, but I used "them" to make a point. So I say this to people, suck it up and put your business hat on and stop making excuses.. If anything, myself and any other black Africans will tell you.. We get a lot of hate from Black Americans than whites, YES I said it and it's the true. I've been told countless times by many black Americans this " You Africans, come here and make all this money and think you better than us" God and every other African in America, will be my witness to that statement.. We hear it all the time, if a white man has been thinking about saying the same thing, well, they haven't had the guts to say it to my face yet, but black Americans have said it to my face countless times.. What do I do? I ignore them and push harder to succeed in life and be better than them.. I have a lot of love for my black people, but for the few that refused to get up and work harder for what they want, trust me, to be successful is no magic, it takes hard work and dedication.. About three years ago, I was working late in my office when the cleaning lady came by, she always said hello and had noticed that I have a very thick accent, she finally one day asked me a for a favor, I was 22 at the time and had just got my first corporate job my Junior years in college. She asked if I could talk to her son who was 25 and I had never meet the guy before.. She said he wasn't doing much with his life, I agreed to visit their home and befriend her son, with my advised that I was able to give him, he has just completed his associate degree in nursing and planing on going to a 4 year university and get his higher degree in nursing, his old friends were laughing at him calling him a male nurse. Today, they still work at the same warehouse he was working with them, but he is now on his own, just got married and also thinking about buying a house.. I never gave him a penny, but just good words and advise about life.. Him and I are like brothers today and the mom is now like a second mother to me.. I had Thanks Giving Dinner at his house this past November.. I told the story to tell people that it's never to late to make something with your life.. Yes, he was black and used to live in the ghetto, but he now lives in one of the best areas in town and makes over $55, 000 a year working as a male nurse at a local hospital..
Good on you, brother! I agree, I got more harassment from my peers than from any random white people, ever. You try to better yourself, and they try to tear you down to their level. They think they can't succeed, and they hate to see any other black person succeed because it proves they could do it too, if they were willing to try.
Interesting Angela. Your success can be attributed to the luck you experienced by being the daughter of a driven, single-minded woman. You found yourself to be in a position where you had direction, wind in your sails, the time, and inclination to study extraordinarily hard. That you didn't study ordinarily hard, but extraordinarily hard proves everyone else's point and undermines yours. You gave up personal friendships and welcomed ostracism while in school (according to your story).
That it took you extraordinary efforts proves that status quo success for impoverished minorities is beyond the ordinary.
It's interesting that you do not identify or comment upon your initial luck to be in an environment conducive to academic achievement. You don't note it, and you resent others who have been less lucky than you.
And if the girl across the hallway from you with whom you dumpster dived for food scraps and clothing had a mom who was a drug addict and an indifferent grandmother who didn't care if she was abducted or read to? Would you condemn her too for not having the chutzpah to get ahead in the world?
It's fascinating how little empathy you possess.
As to Mr. Marks,
They have a point. You are out of touch.
You make a host of assumptions.
How many of these lower income Black kids live in houses with internet connectivity. How many of these kids have an awareness of life outside of their enclosed world.
I grew up poor. My mother spent most of her time in survival mode. That doesn't leave a lot of extra time for helping the kids with school and with inventive learning methods.
It is exceedingly difficult to offer advice to a person about whom you know absolutely nothing.
Ignorance of a situation is not remedied by applying non-applicable life lessons.
It's akin to Americans and their desire to "spread Democracy" to Afghanistan. We have no idea how those folks live. We have no idea of their values or how those values are applied. We, in America, know next to nothing about Islam or the Afghan people. Yet, we make the assumption that all Afghans are dying to be Democratic Libertarians and join the Republican or Democratic Party.
I'm not offended as your puff piece was harmless spit balling. I see it for what it is. That said, I can see how these people believe you to be utterly clueless.
Good Lord! I see nothing but whining.
Working hard can get you ahead. Working smart gets you there faster. Being willing to sacrifice gets you a bit closer.
Whining. Well...it gets you no where. Being offended by small slights either real or imagined. That gets you absolutely no where.
I'm a white dude. I'm a veteran. I've got some college. I've traveled the world. Been to the Great Wall twice. Seen the pyramids a few times. Traveled all over Israel. I've seen most of the Ancient Wonders of the World. I lived in Thailand for a year on my own dime just because I wanted to do so.
I've lived a hell of a great life and I'm only 42. Well, I'll be 43 in a few days. I'm looking forward to living more of a great life.
If you bit off more than you can chew in life at too young an age, it's your fault. If you allow yourself to be hemmed in to a life that you dislike, it's on you.
Don't whine to the world about it. Be creative. Think outside of the box.
If your goal is to have children and a family. Do so wisely. Don't have 4 kids and buy a giant house that you can't afford.
I grew up poor. Alcoholic father. I moved over 40 times from the time that I was born to the time that I joined the Army. I paid no attention in school. I wore hand me downs and many times wound up living with family until my father stopped drinking long enough to sort us out and get us a place to live.
Life has no promises. The American Dream is what you make of it. If it's a lie, it's only because you listened poorly and planned more poorly.
STOP THE WHINING!
so why don't you QUIT complaining about others whining and get on with your great life. very happy for you but i don't recall anyone asking for your advice on the secrets to success.
Africa for the Africans,Asia for the Asians,white countries for EVERYBODY!
Mass immigration and "assimilation" forced on all white countries and ONLY white countries.
Genocide is genocide,it makes no difference legally whether it is accomplished by bullets and mustard gas,or mass immigration and social engineering.
Anti-racist is a codeword for anti-white.
Actually, you can move to Africa or Asia anytime you want.
In fact, I will help you pack.
Lol there is nothing stopping you from moving to Africa lol
Maybe you should talk to the white women who produce minority children with black, hispanic and asian men.
I am a working class white woman with a masters degree who was born to 2 college educated parents. I went to public shcool, community college then university for both bachelors and masters degrees. I am only a few credits from a doctorate degree. I make 32,000.00 a year. I work over 9 hours a day without a break. My husband works as well, as a laborer he is mixed race, raised in poverty in the deep south. He is a verteran and a higly skilled technician, he cannot find work. We lived with $95 dollars in our account for 2 weeks. That Mr. Marks means no more food than we had already and having no cash for even the smallest things. Living in fear of more bank charges this pay check is gone before it gets here. And you think a "poor black kid" can simply work hard and make it? Not only do you need to wake up you need to shut up as well. You are nothing new your kind has been spewing these "America lies" since the beginning. There is no "American Dream" there is ony the "American lie".
Thank you Hannah. When I graduated from undergrad, I took a job at a non-profit making like 36000/year. Then I went to law school. When I graduated I was one of the LUCKY ones......so many of my colleagues have NO JOB with a professional degree. Some are barred attorneys, with NO JOB. So if a person licensed to practice law cant even get a job making 10 dollars an hour (because they're OVER qualified) what the hell makes Mr. Marks think that a poor kid (be they black or white) can just google "ways to pull myself up by my boot straps," and take it from there. Not gonna happen.
Just want all to be aware that Mr. Marks is paid based on the number of people that click and view his pieces. Since he has shown that he really has nothing of value to present in the way of information or insight. STOP READING. Do not waste any more time with someone presenting basic information as insight. Parents, educators and most kids know...or are at least told, that studying, getting good grades is the way to success. Don't try to make him "get it", he doesn't. He hasn't done HIS homework ie thinking reasonably about the barriers that exist and asking himself if his insights are really adding something new or useful to this important conversation. Therefore, he is the kid in class you roll your eyes at and know that he is commenting without having read the assigned reading.
and yet, you have him a hit to post this. I understand how columnist get paid. Good night.
You Mr. Marks have no clue.
I came to this country with no money and little education. I did an ESL and math tests and started to take English classes and math at night. I improved my english and got a job at McD. I openend my mouth and got a scholarship from the American embassy in NYC. They argeed to pay for my full tuition and give me monthly stipend to cover other expenses. I completed by BSc in Accounting and Computer Science after 4 years with honor. The College helped me to get a job at IBM and started as junior programmer. I worked there for 4 years while studying full time and schooling at night. In 1990 I approached our deans office and applied for scholarship to complete my Masters degree. As a foreign student it was difficult, but the they agreed to do so, with exeption that I must maintain a B+ average. I maintain the B+ average and graded within a year. The funny thing thru my school year, I was the only black student in my class till graduation. In 1992, I returned to my country and heading the IT department of one of the big corporation. Here is my advice...to the lazy black American. "You can only bring the horse to the water, but you cannot make it drink." American are the most genoures people I came across my entire life. They are always want to help. If us black foreigners can make it, I do not believe black citizens find it hard...Stop blaming the past 100 years of slavery, move on get over it..I leave in South Africa I do not blame the 6 years ago apartheid regime.I say America is the land of opportunity if you are eager to succeed not if you are lazy bum...God bless America
And I guess this would be my advice to you: (1) Please proofread your work for clarity and grammatical errors before attempting to tell anyone (be they Black American or African) what they should do (2) As an individual with a Nigerian father and a Black American mother, Ive always thought that the relationship between the Black race and Africans is a relationship plagued by misjudgments and misconceptions. Your comment is indicative of that. (3) As a person from a single -parent household, who graduated from law school and became a practicing attorney, you could probably say that I beat many, many odds. But what did I really do? What was really the reward from my experience? What did I really learn while obtaining my B.A. in Criminal Justice and my J.D.? I learned that you can never, ever presume to know another human being's struggle. I learned that everyone has their cross to bear. In fact my old brother is the exact opposite of me. And as much as I want to believe that because he grew up with the same rearing as myself, he and I should be alike, WE ARE NOT. But then again, he has a different cross to bear. He's an African American male. He has to deal with grim reality of racial profiling, and injustice in ways that are only imaginable to myself. That is his cross to bear. It is not mine. As a people, we'll get much further in life when we stop trying to measure who's cross is heavier and who's cross is lighter. We'll get further when we do away with why one's life is one way as opposed to the way we think it should be. We'll get much further when we resolve, to just love one anther and allow that love to manifest into building stronger communities.
Oh my God, he just gave the world a road map to how to make it in America and be a successful world citizen and you shot him down on his blog grammar and that we shouldn't have personal responsibility because we all have personal problems.
Nice. Yup. Blacks will be in good hands if they subscribe to your kind of problem solving.
To all that keep repeating the 'all you gotta do is' and 'why don't black people just' falsehoods, allow me to re-phrase this in a way you can understand: 'why don't you': stop illegal drugs? 'Why don't you': stop illegal immigration? Why didn't you: stop the financial meltdown following Bear Stearns? 'All you gotta do is': patrol the borders. 'All you gotta do is': regulate the finance industry. But you haven't stopped illegal drugs of aliens have you? Because some things don't lend themselves to simplistic solutions. But you already knew that didn't you.
I came to this country on June 16, 2002 at age 16, only thing I came with was a back pack with few cloths in it.. At 16, they put me in the 9 grade ( School was about 95% black), and also in ESL 1.. I knew the ball was in my court from there on, so I pushed myself harder everyday, because I dream of a better life in America.. I graduated high school in 2006 at age 20, put myself through a technical college ( It wasn't an ivy league college, but that's what I can afford) I worked two jobs from my junior year in high school through my last year in college. I went on to study computer science. It's now been 9 years and 6 months since I stepped foot in this country with Zero Dollars in my pocket, but I've managed to now reach my american DREAM. A nice home, car and a decent job working for Dell Computers..And I did all this with a very thick African Accent.. So for all those on here blaming the other race for all the problems in your communities, unless you stand up, look at your self in the mirror and say to yourself " I WILL WORK HARD TO EDUCATE MYSELF, BETTER MYSELF AND REACH FOR THE SKY" I feel sorry for you and the likes of you.. Let's stop the blaming game, Yes, people are still racist, both blacks and white, but hey; you don't let how people look at you determine your life as a human being. Because if that's the case, I got it twice as bad as you do.. I'm black and with a very thick accent.. But I managed to make it in corporate America. I've never been in trouble with the law, never had an issue with anyone and I proudly walk with my head up straight.. You are born in the GREATEST country in the world, but all you can do is complain about how one race is not been fear to the other.. I think if brothers like MLK were still alive, they will be ashamed to see most of the hard work is almost gone in vein.. At 25 years old, I'm one of the youngest, if not the youngest person in my office, No I'm not super Smart, but I just work super hard and know how to push myself.. When I came to this country in that summer of 2002, I gave my self a 15 years timeline to make it in America as a very successful business owner or make it very high up the corporate America leader as an executive of a major corporation, I'm very close to one of those dreams and trust me, God willing, nothing is going to stop me unless sickness.. No man have no power over me but God and I'm out to prove that and hopeful one day, I will be able to nationally and internationally tell my story to the rest of the people who think it's impossible to make it in America as a young black man.. Here are few words to help you.. BE FOCUS, BE DETERMINE, BE PROUD, RESPECT FOR ONESELF AND YOUR COMMUNITY... GOD BLESS AMERICA!!! Feel free to email me: email@example.com
You rock man! Great story! From one who also worked 2-3 jobs through high school and college, if you keep moving forward, no matter how small the steps, you will get there, and always sooner than you think!
Thank you for your input, and follow your dream. Hard work, and dedication will always be rewarded in America, regardless of your skin color. If you think it's cool to dress like a gangster, and act like a gangster, why are you suprised and when you're treated like a gangster?
When writing the article, Mark didn't ask himself, " What guidance do these poor kids need?" He asked, " How can I get tons of comments on my article from third party sources, while driving traffic to Forbes, so my boss will be happy about all the sheep viewing our ads? Mark isn't an out of touch with reality moron. He just doesn't care about delievering quality content.
P.S If he actually is out of touch with reality, his publisher isn't.
have read the original article. I agree to some extent, but as a middle class black woman who works in education; I know that the opportunities are NOT always there for the hardworking POOR kid of all races.
How many of you have actually read Gene Mark's original article? I commend him for having the courage to provide such valuable advice to a generation of kids – not just poor black kids – across this country. He begins the article by shedding any semblance of arrogance or condescension, to wit:
"The President’s speech got me thinking. My kids are no smarter than similar kids their age from the inner city. My kids have it much easier than their counterparts from West Philadelphia. The world is not fair to those kids mainly because they had the misfortune of being born two miles away into a more difficult part of the world and with a skin color that makes realizing the opportunities that the President spoke about that much harder. This is a fact. In 2011."
As a middle class black guy, I want to scream "Thank you, Gene!!!" from the top of my lungs! You've laid at the feet of a generation of kids a roadmap of brilliant guidance that, if heeded, will usher them to their greater potential. There'll be detractors, but please know you've done a great service to those of us not in search of excuses!
A middle class black guy
Washington, DC suburbs
I read it and I'm a middle classed Black woman. I'm not so out of touch to see that POOR people in general are not given the same opportunities no matter what they do. Some of it is effort and willingness but some of it is the system. Be realistic.
Gene: I know you are catching a lot of heat for this article, but I will share a real life example for you. Its my little brother (not so little as he is 18).
So my mom had me at 21, my dad was rarely in the picture. So at age 23, she took a job at a college working as a security guard/dispatcher. Let's just say that is a pretty male dominant position. It doesn't make much money, but she took the job to send her three sons to college for free.
So this single mother of three sons sends them all to a private elementary school. I will tell you there were no discounts at this school. First son ends up going to public high school, he is just bad, but goes on to enroll in the college she worked at and becomes a lawyer. Second son goes to a private high school and gets a discount based on income. Not a fancy high school and it was predominantly black.
The third son. In grade school this son plays every sports. (Like most kids, they think they will be professional athletes). His older brother tells him while he is only in 6th grade, he is going to the high school that cost $25,000 per year. So 8th grade rolls around and he applies. Guess what, they have a scholarship fund/donors who sponsor the tuition. So the third son gets to go for less than a quarter of the price.
Fast forward to his junior year in high school. He is the only kid in his grade who letters (plays varsity) in three sports; football, basketball, and track. On top of that, he is taking 2-3 AP classes (college level) while all his other athlete friends take regular courses.
So it is around spring of his junior year, when he decides to "google" college football coaches and track coaches and admission counselors across the country. So he finds out there emails and starts emailing them his stats. Guess what? Some of them actually respond and invite him on a campus tour.
So summer between his junior senior year goes by and he visits a few colleges. Mind you, these are not the Floridas, Texas, USC, OSU colleges, but still Division I nonetheless. So now he is in his senior year, some of the coaches keep in contact with him and he has been offered full rides and partial rides, and now he is also being contact out of the blue by some colleges. He will be going Division I in a sport, he is still deciding where with his top school being an "arguable" ivy league level school because of education.
Mind you about this kid. His mother is barely makes $30,000 a year. He is mixed, but has never in his 18 years met his father. He is a teenager, (so he thinks he knows it all), but strive to be the best he can be ( I know cliche, but he knows sports is a means to an end) and take care of his mother.
He basically has done everything you outlined, he has worked hard, had a little luck, had a little guidance, found his skill (really a means to an end) and yes used "google" to get into college. Being his older brother and being more fortunate as I was the first child, this kid is a million times better than me.
Poor white child, used-to-be-that-is. Don't feel sorry for me, please. I grew up in government housing, welfare, food stamps, no father or sometimes step alcoholic father. Abused emotionally, physically. I KNEW I had to escape. Worked every job I could find. Lied about my age to get jobs at 14 (luckily I was tall), worked late nights at Kentucky Fried and Tommys Burgers. Also odd jobs under the table. Saved every dime, bought my first used car from a junkie, I had no license. Took back streets. Again, lied about my age and experience, no choice. Got a receptionist job in a nice company. Bought goodwill suits to look 'officey'. Learned the computer in that office, and more. How to deal with all kinds of people with respect black white asian. Respect goes a long way. Moved up to file clerk then to sales rep. Got my GED in meantime. Finally moved out of low income housing and my mom tried to force me to stay, crazy. Its because I was giving her money for rent when she was receiving welfare on 2 other kids. She was trained to just 'take the govt check' and do nothing. I love my mom, but yet, now I see that her training started early. Have a baby, Govt will give you a check, have 5 babies, you get more. I think they changed that now, thank GOD. Lots of prayer. I am now upper middle class, beautiful home, wonderful husband and two incredible smart kids because I am giving them the skills and technology devices they need to succeed. No matter what race you are, YOU have a chance, I do regret the lies, but it was survival. Look around, what do you see? The whole world is there for you, get out of the dark place and into the light. Knowledge is your haven. I make sure my kids are color blind, they still visit there grandma where I grew up and they are getting old enough to see what they don't want. I expose them to the real world and they are giving, loving, kids. I want them to see. No private school. Public school is a good place because you are exposed to every type of person that exists and they learn to deal with them. They get educated mainly at home and they are straight A kids. This is a short version of my life, you would not want to read the long. Happy ending for me, but not for my friends who have stayed. Note: I do help my mom financially now, she's not long for this world. Peace to all of you. PS Thurston, God Bless You, BUT you need to get out of that chair and walk around – LOOK around. Everything is NOT on the internet.
I meant to tell Gene Marks to get up and walk around, my apologies to Thurston.
Simplifry, why is Renee "...some black guy's trophy"? Why isn't she simply his wife?! Or, God forbid, why isn't he her trophy? Ever thought about it that way? The sinister nature of racism ensures its seepage into our every expression. Trophy?! Hmm... Interesting!
so what....so we can't tell young black males stop fathering babies and not taking care of them? its the whites that made you father those kids and not be around so that the mother has to raise the kids (or not raise them, and grandma does) in poverty and be forced to live in an area thats poor, and then the children either end up in gangs or repeating the cycle, yet the black community doesn't take any responsibility? ok good idea, keep going.
You know. My wife works for the child support services in our state. She has Thousands of cases for just our county. And guess what? 80% of them are White men who father babies and don't want to take responsibility for them. So before you make assumptions about a group of people that you obviously don't care to try to understand get your facts straight.
Hi Mr. Marks,
Since it seems like you have answers to everything, i was wondering if i could get more advice from you.
1. Where should i go when my family gets evicted from our house since we're too poor to afford rent?
2. How can i get money to buy a computer when my mom can't afford rent?
3. How will i study at home when the electricity is shut off and there's no starbucks in my neighborhood to study at?
4. What should i tell people who think they know everything and assume that they have answers to a problem that they know nothing about?
he'd say that you should just try harder
He sounds patronizing.
The issue isn't that the poor, Blacks, Hispanics or Native Americans don't try. Although in every race there are those too. It's that the opportunities aren't as available. There are many brilliant kids that because of their birth place, genetics or family they are not afforded the same chance as others NO MATTER WHAT THEY DO.
If I am a poor kid at my neighborhood school and I could get all As but a rich kid at another kid that get's all C's has a better chance.
His skill set, his exposure level, his knowledge of options and resources is vastly different from my own.
It's as if Mr. Marks doesn't understand the basic problem. So let me spell it out...
In America the race we are running is rigged
It's as if we are running a 100m sprint with the rich starting a quarter of the way towards the finish line and the poor (BLACK, HISPANIC, NATIVE AMERICAN AND EVEN WHITE) kids are starting a quarter of the way behind the finish line. So it doesn't matter if you run your hardest, doesn't matter if you're the fastest in the world. There is no way you can win that race.
The American Dream is not attainable for all. Sad thing is that the poor kids of ALL races have less of a chance now than their grandparents did. What do you say to that? It's just a matter of effort as well?
Gene, stop ridiculing yourself with these fantasist solutions. Here are the facts:
1. Study hard and get good grades. I DID!
2. Use technology to help you get good grades. I DID!
3. Apply to the best schools you can. I DID!
4. Get help from a school's guidance counselor. I DID!
5. Learn a good skill. I DID, I am a computer programmer!
RESULTS: Pathetic, my job went to cheap labor in India.
I am American, not black or white, just American!
Precisely. The formula for success in this country has changed. I'm not sure what it is now, although I imagine some variation on "be white and well off" is in there somewhere.
We're on a bullet train to heck in this country if you look at the numbers. The poverty gap keeps increasing. Health insurance costs more and more, while people are living longer and need more care. Our public schools are performing pretty poorly, while our governments cut their funding AS they demand better performance from them. And increasingly, a degree is needed to have any real chance in this country, and the college costs just keep going up, even while most people are getting poorer.
But hey, you know...study hard, visit some websites...yeah.
Complaining about being laid off, rather than using your skills does no one any good. Perhaps you should read Graham's "How to Make Wealth." The value of having a skill such as coding as Marks preaches is not just for resumes and getting a job. The value is self-reliance. The kind where one can go out and CREATE opportunity for oneself whether that may be working for other people or oneself. "It takes brains" to recognize opportunity and even more so to create them.
In your case, I don't understand why you haven't tried to create a product of your own– you have the skills to, no? And even then, there is plenty of information on the web to learn specific programming languages, which should come more naturally for someone experienced in coding.
So you could blame others all you want, but at the end of the day, you pay the costs for your own decisions. So make the difficult ones of present sacrifice for future gain, right? But that would be hard–to accept responsibility, be upset with oneself, move one, work hard, create goals for oneself, etc. It's easy to have another tell you to do something because there is comfort in that. But every time we blindly follow and depend on another, we lose a piece of our self reliance. Perhaps the reason America has began to falter in its exceptionalism is this very reason. We are a generation trained to "deserve" rather than "earn." We are a generation unable to deal with sacrifice. We are a delusionally selfish generation. One that rationalizes both defrauding the American Public in inconceivably massive financial swindles and government corruption, and that protesting with ire but not ideas is a great response to the systemic problems of greed we face. We stand complacent because it is more comforting to be told the reassuring white lies because facing the truth hurts.
This debate is extremely interesting to me. As a white person raised in an upper middle class household, who has become a well-educated upper middle class person, I have often wondered if I would have succeeded had I been raised a poor black (or white) child. I totally agree that the underprivileged can overcome their environment if they simply take advantage of the resources available to them, but is it really that simple? I can totally understand people becoming overwhelmed by their environment, it seems that sometimes it is a struggle merely to survive, so that finding access to technology is a secondary concern at best. In any event, I would never presume to judge people from less privileged environments because it is impossible for someone like me to understand the struggles they face.
Im a poor kid in america. Im black, white, and native american. To other poor black kids in america. newsflash –> its almost 2012. Get an education, leave your drama at home. Yeah your parents are drug addicts, mine were too. Hungry, I was too. No new school clothes..work harder to maintain the ones you have, plus thrift store shopping is cool. Molested, me too..get counseling, pray, forgive those people and move on. No matter what the situation is you have to elevate. Thurston simply suggested the means for elevation. Dont be the poor kid that talks back to the teacher, who fails to do school assignments, who is constantly suspended, who is a bully, who is nothing close to humble...that poor kid will be in the welfare line for most of his life, locked up, or on a street corner. Be as close to the Kid that thurston suggests you should be: one who has initiative, who is curious, who is outgoing, who strives, is dedicated and a hard worker. Yes racial and social stigmatism exists. But we have a black president. People are going from being in foster care to becoming CEO of APPLE. If you want a bite out of American Pie, you have to help make the pie, no-one is just going to give it to you.
All I can say is "Well Said !!!"
The problem is...it's not that easy. I mean watch waiting for superman. Education in America is different depending on the dollars coming in and if you are a poor kid the opportunities are slim. I agree that excuses are not what kids need. But there also needs to be a recognition that the system is messed up.
To say that all Americans are afforded the same opportunity is simply not true. I will say it's not about race though, but more so about the financial status.
Let them eat cake...
How cavalier of you! (Please note the extreme sarcasm here)
I'm sure Mr. marks meant well but his words ring in my ears like that paternalistic "I've got the answer to all your problems" load of horse manure. And why are poor black kids the focus of his attention? There are plenty of poor white kids in this country, a well-known fact I should think. Would the remedy for their predicament be something different?
Let me tell you I was a "poor black kid" only at the time I didn't know it. All I knew was that I had a mother who loved me, played with me, taught me to read before I went to first grade. As for computers, yeah back in 1954, we had a computer – it was called YOUR BRAIN and did my mom make me use mine. I had to memorize the the mathematic times table. I had to study so much I can remember dreaming about historical facts. By today's standards we most certainly would have been classified as below the poverty level, and indeed, there were some days and nights we went to bed hungry. And to wrap it although we were financially poor, we never looked at ourselves as some stereotype. That is the problem with stereotypes, there is an exception or many exceptions to every one of them. Also, Im not one to think people should limit themselves, but if a person is going to write about a particular ethnic group and talk about how they should do this or that, it rings a bit disingenuous when the person is not even a member of that ethnic group.
How will a fancy University degree, and a brand new suit outdo the bias of corporate companies. It's so easy to say, "get a a good education, and apply to a great college." It's so simple to write about an efficient way to solve such a complex problem. If you have never been in such a situation, why try to write an article about it? There is no reason to do it. Has Mr. Marks ever skipped a meal to pay rent? Did he ever struggle to find a job, in a world dominated by white middle-aged men? Has he experienced racism? I doubt it. I doubt that Mr. Marks was trying to offend, but maybe he should not delve into matters that are beyond his understanding.
It seems to be convenient for some people to simply dismiss someones admittedly simplified advice because he cannot have been in the same situation as the person he is addressing or does not have the same color of skin (which is racist in a way). Instead, please reject it on the grounds that you are able to say of yourself: I did all of this and I am still poor and feel underprivileged.
Why do black folks find every sane admonition polarizing? Just look at their choices and the degree to which black folks want something as badly as any one else. Theirs is a culture of excuses and phantom victimization. Just do it you bunch of cry babies. It gets very tiring. The newly arrived immigrant laughs at you inabilities to attain success as a people and as a culture. Frankly, not very smart at all.
I agree with you. This Baratunde guy just couldn't stand the idea of a white man claiming to know anything about blacks. Baratunde's response was pointless and worthless.
Well Mr. Marks already said he didn't know anything about being a poor black kid in this society so his advice can't be REALLY be taken seriously as he doesn't know the lack of opportunities poor black kids must face.
The very premise of your rebuttal is...well...worthless all the way around seeing how the actual writer himself said he didn't know anything about poor black kids. As multiple statistics show, black people in America just don't get the same opportunities. Never have. During this recession, it's gotten even worse. For Gene Marks to so simply and naively lay out this 'plan' is almost insulting. Completely neglecting the fact that poor kids, today, have no means of half of what he advises because....you know...having to deal with finding food, getting kicked out of homes, and having no power. The kind of thing that poor people go through.
It's not just "black folks." I'm white, and I find this off-putting.
With a topic like this, *any* advice, given by *anybody*, is going to cause arguments. People have strong feelings. But this piece is particularly oversimplified.
I think you missed the entire irony of Thurston's letter. You admit that you don't know what it means to be black and poor. But you don't seem to follow it to the logical conclusion that you are not qualified to make prescriptions about their situation, and that to do so while coming from a background of profound ignorance about structural racism and unequal opportunity in this country – is simply self-aggrandizement. It is condescending, unhelpful, and infuriating on multiple levels. You ARE qualified to write about being a culturally-insulated white male, so why don't you start from a level from which you have experience.
It is amazing that he missed the point entirely, twice!! He should spend some time volunteering at the high schools he thinks are just like the well funded ones he probably attended, that should make him realize the playing field isn't exactly even.
I am a poor black kid that tried to go to private schools. Currently I am a Engineer with a large multi-national corporation. I arrived here not by following idiots like Mark, but by copying my grandfather, and my father. Education was denied them. They couldnt sit at the counter, nor use the facilities they were taxed on. As such, WHO are you to Try and tell a poor black kid anything. Your stereo typed thoughts of Black life couldnt be more wrong. Actually, if more Middle Class White Guys like yourself would leave the Television images and those of your FOX programming alone, for even a day to see how the typical Poor Black family actually lives, you would be shocked. We are NOT all gang bangers, pimps, idiots, or so stupid we dont know technology! Before you pen something so stupid, take a moment to find out, not by talking to other WHITE Guys, but to the black people around you. The ones you pass everyday, like the janitor, the bus driver, the cook or bus boy where you eat. They may be poor, but still, there is pride. We all cant be Rich, or even middle class. But, we can have something you lack, both class and tact.
For a POOR BLACK Kid once upon a time
I think if more people, black or otherwise, were as diligent as you, we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all.
Very astute and meaningful coming from someone who actually know what it was like to grow up as the proverbial poor black kid. God bless you!!
Beautiful piece!!!!!You have captured so much of what I was feeling!!! Thank you for speaking your mind. A lack of riches does not always mean a lack of character, discipline and the ability to succeed. Growing up I saw common, ordinary people raising their families, going to church to serve their God and demonstrating what it means to be a goodl neighbor. I learned all I needed to survive and to get me where I am today at home from my Black parents and in school from my Black teachers(Oblate Sisters of Providence) I did my homework, respected my elders and was taught to share what I had. Like you I found my role models in my home watching my parents working hard everyday to make sure I had what I needed. To God be the Glory!!!!!!!
Your perspective is pinpoint. Its saddening that the same basis he provides as his argument (Ignorance) Is the exact same flaw in his supposition. I, a poor black kid from West Philadelphia in the 2000's responded back to Mr. Marks' Article. You can read and share it if you like: http://thesquabbleroom.blogspot.com/
Wow, this guy REALLY doesn't get it. I wasn't expecting this "response" to be anything good, but I definitely wasn't expecting him to reiterate every useless, insulting piece of advice from of his original essay! This guy actually thinks the only problem was that he framed his advice in "if I were a poor black kid," and not the advice itself. Incredible.
"From of"? Good job, me.
What disturbs me most about the article is that the author almost sounds like he's blaming poor inner city youth for their problem. It's not just about studying harder. I don't think there's been a study about how often poor inner city students study– and what is studying at home anyway? If you don't know the answer, and your parents don't, and you can't stay after school for the extra time, is it really your fault for not understanding?
I wish the article was more focused on some systemic changes that are barriers to children doing the things he suggests. For example, curriculum, funding, discipline systems (ie No Tolerance Policies) and more are different depending on the neighborhood the schools are in.
There should be a push for school reform that addresses these challenges– not trying to make this a "survival of the fittest" where poor children have to fend for themselves and others get to be lazy and still be better off. It's disturbing to know how many folks are okay with that archaic, barbaric, tooth-and-nail fight for education– instead of advocating for equal, fair adequate education resources in all communities.
OH YEAH, that's another thing- he doesn't acknowledge that some kids in other neighborhoods get to slack and cruise into better opportunities and that for some poorer kids, they can pour sweat and tears into succeeding and still come up short. His advice isn't a panacea.
Mr. Marks, Although you may have been well-intentioned with your original article, I hope you realize how incredibly polarizing its content was. Unless, of course, you were simply looking for more recognition for your blog – in which case, congratulations; you've gained significant notoriety and infamy.
As a former stereotypical "poor black kid", who has now gone on to receive an MBA and a product of Silicon Valley tech companies, your article has evoked in me a wonder, that when I'm sitting across from the stereotypical "middle class white guy" at a business lunch, I will wonder if he is looking at me wondering: "How did she make it out of the ghetto?" "Are her parents uneducated or on the streets?" "Does she even know her father?" These are obviously stereotypes that unfortunately your article perpetuates, and creates a divide that you couldn't even imagine – coming from my perspective. None of these scenarios or "wonders" apply to me, however, articles like yours really show the ignorance that I fear much of our country is entrenched in.
Maybe ask a few questions before you proudly place yourself in someone's else's shoes. Speak to what you do know, and where it fits – it fits. Trying to give advice as if you were a "poor black kid" clearly is not a fit here.
Well said, Ms. Hanna. Best post I've read so far.
you need to not worry about what's going through other people's minds and what they may be thinking about you. that will make you paranoid no matter what your race or background.
What if you work hard, get good grades, get an education but you still can't get others to look beyond your one past mistake?
I think you are still missing the main point that everyone who has refuted your argument is making: It's not that we as black youth don't know what we have to do, we are fully aware. It's is the systematic oppression that prevents us from achieving that upward mobility. Those resources you speak about, it's not that our parents don't give them to us, it is that they are kept from us. It is the fact that regardless to what schools we choose to apply to, no matter how "great" they are, there are still biases and exclusions based on our color. We do and have done everything that you did to get to where you are, but the color of our skin will continue to keep us twenty steps behind you and any other person of "non-color". THAT is the point. Racism and continued oppression of the Black Community is what prevents that "black kid" from achieving their true goals. So instead of telling that child what to do, how bout you talk to the society that continues to perpetuate these things. Also, the fact that you say that you doubt these kids will read this, is EXTREMELY insulting, and it proves that you are also one of those members of society who is forgetting to encourage our Black youth. If you set your expectations so low for them (as do many in White America) how can you expect these children to expect any different for themselves. I found your original article very offensive, and you seriously need to do some self reflection before you decided to give ANYONE advice.
Actually Thurston was the one who assumed that black kids would not be reading Forbes. Read this article and you’ll see. So Jaime, if what you’re saying is true, that means black kids in general have tried their hardest to study, read, practice math problems after school, take stellar notes in class, etc? Or are you saying they want to, but have been prevented from doing so
It's terrible that "White America" is apparently so intent on "systematically oppressing" the black community as you assume, Jamie. I guess that means we will never have a black President in this country...
The only reason Obama is a black President who was unknown to begin with, is because the Democratic Party decided to "taunt" or to "upset" the Republicans and the rest of the world who would never think having a black president was possible. Obama was a nobody to begin with, but his party has money! Furthermore, if a clown, or a Hispanic, or a woman, or a janitor, or a Jew, or Hugo Chavez, or a monkey, or Ahmadinejad, or anybody with a body and a brain would have upset the tide of dealing with the Republicans and their incompetence for 8 years, the Democrats would have used a clown, or a Hispanic, or a woman, or a janitor, or a Jew, or Hugo Chavez, or Ahmadinejad, or anybody with a body and a brain to put up as a presidential candidate. Don't tell me you don't think Obama is President because of his charm or wisdom or political experience or the like; otherwise, just look at the awesome progress this country has achieved since he was sat, was placed, was allowed, was 'dissegregated' to be allowed to be President!
systematic oppression . . . of the Black Community, eh? we have a black president. just about the only people who can get promoted in corporate america these days are blacks. college admissions heavily favor blacks. a memorial to a black man stands next to US presidents in Washington DC. you have swallowed the Kool Aid, kiddo. you don't want the fight to ever end.
Please read a study. Black folks on average still make less than whites. The gap is even larger for black women. White people still make the most. Having a black president is not the end of racism. Right now the job market also sucks for white people. But because a few people of color are promoted as tokens doesn't mean the majority aren't suffering. I think it is YOU who have been drinking the Kool-Aid.
Success is definitely a mind-set. Growing up my parents told me on a regular basis that I could do anything and I could be anything. It was pretty much drilled into my head, so I never thought anything different. The thought of not going to college never even crossed my mind.
I think there just needs to be some positive influence in everyone's life telling them they can succeed. I know there are a lot of other factors (parents not around, income, environment) that act as barriers, but it's all about positive influence.
Gene is so fiull of s*&t. Poor black kids who don't own computers don't even know about goofy white websites like Kahn and Ted. Try volunteering with the poor Gene. You might learn somthing that you can teach the top 1% racists who read Forbes.
Gene overgeneralizes, but Lisa is also guilty.
I’m Chinese American. When my ancestors came to the US to work on the railroads 150 years ago, we were second class citizens. After all of our hard work, we were subsequently told that there were too many of us, that we were stealing jobs, and that we weren’t welcomed. White Americans took this as a mandate to discriminate against us, disallowing us from setting foot outside Chinatown (for those in the SF Bay Area). A generation later, when my parents came under asylum in the 70s, and wanted to buy a car, the car salesmen came up, pointed to the ragged coats they were wearing, and told them to shop within their price range. I imagine this is not an isolated incident. Fast forward 40 years, now whenever I go to a car dealership, the salesmen flock over like flies, thinking that Asians are successful, with wads of cash in their pockets.
I am not saying that the stereotype should have changed for black people as well because frankly, Asians were not nearly disenfranchised and repressed for as long as blacks were. The culture, the artificial breeding, and disenfranchisement that results from hundreds of years of slavery is too deeply ingrained to be fixed with just “technology” and “going to school.” It’s easy to tell black kids to do that, but has anyone ever asked why they don’t “just do it.” Maybe it’s because their parents don’t expect them to, like the way Asian parents expect their kids. But why is there such a difference? Again, the difference in parenting is steeped in hundreds of years of culture shifts. For Asian parents, “making it big” is becoming a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer. For black parents, it’s becoming a rapper, a celebrity, a sports star? I am grossly overgeneralizing here of course. I know a lot of successful black scientists and engineers, and there are of course successful Asian athletes, but you get the point. Both take lots of hard work to become successful. Just ask Jordan how many hours he used to practice. The problem lies in there being 100,000 times more jobs for lawyers/doctors/engineers/scientists than pro rappers/athletes. So when the 0.001% makes it and the other 99.999% don’t make it, what happens to the career?
As an example of how detrimental the cultural disenfranchisement has been for the African American community, I like to reference the success of people from the African continent. I went to a top university where there were a number of black engineering students. Interestingly enough, most of them are actually from the African continent and they are some of the smartest students I know. There goes that myth about black people not being “as smart as other cultures” etc. It’s BS, where the black community is at right now, it takes hundreds of years of cultural discrimination to get them there.
Where Gene Marks makes a good point is that he should have clearly positioned the article for black parents, to begin encouraging the black community and telling them that through hard work/technology whatever, yes you can succeed too. I know there is still lots of discrimination around. In high school, one of my black friends was discouraged from joining an advanced placement course because the counselor told him “this class isn’t for people like you.” This is the kind of specific discrimination we have to openly expose and talk about. It’s still there, but it’s not nearly as bad as before – ie. during the 50s. So the black community also has a responsibility to take advantage of all the advances that MLK and Parks and all the Civil Rights leaders pioneered and continue that fight. Don’t back down to that counselor. Expose her, and fight for that education that you deserve.
Henry, man, As a objective African American guy, I applaud you. Your perspective is pinpoint. Its saddening that the same basis he provides as his argument (Ignorance) Is the exact same flaw in his supposition. I, a poor black kid from West Philadelphia in the 2000's responded back to Mr. Marks' Article. You can read and share it if you like: http://thesquabbleroom.blogspot.com/
Guess noone actually knows it until they have lived it. Great advice from all those who have never been a "poor black kid". Walk a mile people.
This isn't a secret for the rest of the world. Just ask the kids of India, China and Russia. As they improve the quality of their lives thru sacrifice and study we have to push, pull and plead to get inner city students to care about their own education. Stay in the ghetto for all i care if you won't lift a finger to help yourself.
Stay in the ghetto for all i care if you won't lift a finger to help yourself.
I think the obvious problem is that they aren't paying taxes, or contributing to their own care. Otherwise, I'd agree with you 100%. That's something I think the GOP should figure out: if you want to quit paying all these high taxes so people on welfare in the ghettos aren't uhm... "in the ghetto" than maybe you should figure out some way to get them out. Whatever it took. It'd be a lot cheaper in the long-run.
mr marks will you now turn around and tell the racist whites this: to
stop being racist so that the kids who do learn to read and get good grades wont
be discriminated against when they go looking for a job. tell those whites to
be just as wiling to help the black succeed on the job as they are with other
whites. will you tell whites to train those kids properly when they are on the
job and not sabotage them. and tell the whites to stop getting mad when they have a black
boss who tells them what to do. and to be cooperative with the black boss and not
resentful just because he is black.
youre telling the blacks what they need to do. now turn around and tell the white racist
what they need to stop doing.
Going along with working hard is working smart and making good choices in life. An unexceptional computer person makes it to middle class while an exceptional one goes further (with a little luck).
Hey Eric and and Mr. Marks, how about letting everyone know about this. This isn't a black and white issue, male or female issue, it's about not knowing that there are resources out there to help all of us out. I came from a white middle class family and have never had any opportunities like those you have mentioned. Technology wasn't available to me, no school counselors told me what I could do to better myself and most of all, my parents didn't get Forbes magazine. Racism – every person, regardless of their gender, color, ethnic background is discriminated against in this country, quit your crying, I'm a white middle aged female from a middle class family and have been discriminated against my whole life for one reason or another, nothing has ever been handed to me and even welfare has turned me down because I don't meet their low standards (though I really need the help, been homeless 3 times and nobody helped me, took me 2 years, but I got back on my feet, holding a job the entire time)
I for one thought exactly what you wrote when I was in grade school. I tried to racially sensitive. Then I got to the real world realized one race in particular was slacking off while other cultures have come and succeeded in america. Then I realized how often the race card is played and how little they try and use the preposterous amount of help they receive. I think the old saying you can bring a horse to water comes to mind. People are dependents to the system. We have made them that way we need to force them to stand on their own two feet and not use the crutch of racism. That is the only way we will get past racism in this country is to stop using the idea of it as a societal crutch to help other races.
Mr. Marks, you should stick to writing about technology. Instead of poor black kid, you can insert "any kid from any race" and your article would still hold little relevance.
Hold little relevance? You can't be serious...
I grew up a poor Latino kid, so I guess that puts me a rung above the poor black kid in terms of inequalities. And everything that Marks wrote should be PAINFULLY OBVIOUS. My parents were uneducated, and every day they told me that if I didn't want to work construction (father) or work at K-mart (mother) that I needed to get an education and go to college. Bingo! Pretty simple, and that was without the benefit of new technologies like the internet. Get a clue.
You must be challenged in the head Slowdown. Or maybe the name slowdown is so we all slowdown for your lack of knowledge. Technology is the future. Most jobs now involved data entry, coding on some level almost all of them. I studied statistics and actuarial methods and most of it was math but most of the jobs involve coding and data entry and analysis. Technology is the only way anyone can have a chance to succeed in the near future.
If all the black and Hispanic children become well educated and get great jobs, what about my child?
Well, I just read Gene Marks' response to Baratunde Thurston's satirical comment on Mark's article. So, I just gotta' repeat (and revise slightly) my comments on the other page : Gene Marks you dolt! You need to go back to English class to learn what satire, sarcasm, and irony mean. Baratunde Thurston may be no Jonathan Swift, but you are simply "not too swift." No amount of 21st Century technology is going to help you get up to speed on this issue – you missed that train when it left the station and you had no intention of getting on it, even if you could recognize it, as you admit to as much.
Mr. Marks is absolutely correct with his five points.
A good deal of the problem is that too many Black-American children are told that they will fail, that they can not succeed. They are told that they are stupid and told that they are worthless. Children are amazing in that they believe what you tell them (at this Christmas time, when children write letters to Santa, this is evident). If you tell them that they are doomed, they will believe that.
Black-Americans need to stop telling their children that they are doomed to fail because they are black and start telling them that they have an opportunity - no guarantee, but an opportunity - to succeed because they are Americans.
Ummm ... I don't think it is Black Americans who have been "telling their children that they are doomed to fail because they are black ..." I think if you go back just a wee bit into history you will find that it is the white folks who have not only been telling blacks they are doomed, but have been actively and aggressively indoctrinating everyone, black and white alike, in that falsehood.
AMEN JCG!!! Thanks for stating facts!!!!!!
"A wee bit"? Brown vs. Board of Education was in 1954. While Brown didn't end the transmission of that message, it certainly was a key milestone in the process of ending it. And that was almost sixty years ago, three generations. As a nation, we need to allow ourselves to move into a post-racial society. We need to stop thinking about everything and stop framing everything and stop talking about everything in terms of race. The last step in the process is to let go of it. And it seems to me like we're stuck at that point.
Sherwood: Spoken like a person of privilege. This "post-racial" rhetoric is absolute crap. It's like you think that just because we elected a black president we can forget about the staggering inequalities in this country. Nope. We need to frame certain things in terms of race until things are actually equal in this country. As good as this notion of total colorblindness sounds to a well-intentioned Caucasian person, it's ultimately naive.
what kind of parent would tell their kids they are doomed to fail. where did you get that from? that's a very false assumption. they might indicate that there are lots of obstacles (much more than white kids) to success due to how society is but i don't know what kind of parent would actually tell their kids that they are pretty much destined for failure. while on the subject of OBSTACLES, FYI there is actually a middle school in the Bronx NY without an English teacher since the beginning of the school year...MINORITY school of course. now please explain how these kids suppose to compete with those in Westchester NY? Lets face the FACTS there is NO level playing field. if your are a minority, especially if you are black and living in a poor area you are at a disadvantage and every black person knows that but there is no general consensus among the families in these areas that their kids are all destined for failure. if that was the case then why send them to school in the first place? there is always hope for success even-though their local governments have dealt them bad hands with poor schools, poor policing, poor public services.
In West Philadelphia, born and raised.....on a playground is where I spent most of my days....
Statistics are not racist, they are numbers. The people that came up with the numbers could be racist though. The people using the statistics could be racist, though. A knife is a tool and a knife is a weapon, just like statistics. Statistics do no imply causality. If it is true that more African Americans are involved in crime than all other races combined, it does not mean that they are involved in crime because they are black. I think Renee thinks it does. And if so, that means she might be racist.
The heart of this disagreement, in my opinion, is whether or not humans have free will. Of course we like to think that we do, it is only natural for those of us who think we have been successful to think so, but for the poor black kid who doesn't know about his opportunities or whose fear outweighs his determination because of the community in which he lives, is it truly a failure on his part that he doesn't get into a good college? Renee, or people like Renee, if you were poor, lived in a community of crime, and had parents that didn't know what opportunities were out there or had too many issues to deal with themselves to look out for you, I doubt that you'd have the same outlook on your level of self-determination. People will say I am disempowering people to speak like this, and I am. I don't think we have as much control over our futures as we say we do. Some, yes. Alot, sometimes. But not always, and not usually. I, a successful physician, was a poor white kid who had parents who emphasized academic acheivement above almost all else. Who am I to claim that my degree was all my doing? Sure I've made good and bad choices, but those choices were not made out of context but rather in context of my past, my community, my religion, and my luck-driven experiences.
1) People of non-black races come here all the time, and do not end up as criminals. No reason? Just another statistic?
2) Mainstream media writings these daze note that more and more college educated white kids are going to Asia – because 'even they' can't find jobs here and have better opportunities there. Africa is a big place that needs lots of development – how many African-Americans leave here and go there for opportunity. ZERO. No reason? Just another statistic?
3) Ever think what white colonists (Pilgrims) went thru to make a better life for themselves? Maybe some of these black folk might want to think about looking for someplace other than the USA for their opportunites – maybe even Africa? Nah, just white people have to do that.
I complimented Gabe on his remarks and since you JoeBlough have done the same I will now scoff at yours. You are obviously an ignorant person to whom God has bestowed very few critical thinking abilities. I wish you the best of luck in what is most likely a struggle to live a civilized life.
Joe Blough, my aim isn't to beat you up with eloquent writing, rather tell you to open up your mind. That farm you lived on, at most, got what, a few bad winds? Yes, very hard to study through. But you've never had bullets whiz by your head and see babies die as a result of frivolous gun fights. No. You haven't. I, a poor black kid from West Philadelphia have. You keep referring back to your growing up (on a farm) not in a major metropolitan. Certainly not Philadelphia, where as a minority, the odds are stacked against you. You, my friend, are the product of 400 years of white privilege just spewing through your nose and mouths. Open your eyes and close your mouth, you might learn a thing or 3.
I just wanted to let you know, there's this "thing" called "History". You should look into it. Really. It might actually enlighten you.
Speaking of, you know what the Pilgrims went through? About how they invaded a foreign land, killed those silly Natives who thought it was unfair, herded over those big strapping black people to work (and not that pansy indentured servitude but real Democratic Slavery). Yes, they definitely had the right ideas.
I would simply like to commend you on your well thought out and eloquently written opinion. You, total stranger, deserve a gold star from me, a total stranger to you; so I hereby, figuratively, present you with one for a job well done. For the record, I write this with sincerity and no sarcasm is intended or implied. You words hit the bullseye.
My parents had food stamps, etc. I worked on a farm before school and after, 40+ hrs/week during school year and 80+ hrs/week during summer. I graduated National Honor Society and I was All-Star in baseball in 10th, 11th, and 12th grades. I have an engineering degree and have worked with automotive, aeospace, and other manufacturing companies, and I worked in logging and mining. I worked with PhDs from every corner of the globe and recently taught engineers from the Congo about mining processes. I worked with legal and illegal immigrants, educated and unedecated, including illegal professionals. I work with welders and machinists and machine operators and manual labor. I employed white, black, and red men and women in a drug rehab program – who could only work 1/2 day becasue they destroyed their bodies – some ex-professional athletes. Yeah. What might I know. You should check how many African-Americans have joined the Peace Corps to go help poor people in Africa. My father grew up without electricity and I know exactly what Pilgrims went through – you ever live in a northern climate with snow on the ground for 6 months – you don't play basketball all summer – you bust your ass to survive the winter. Every rule to limit excessive celebrations in the NFL has been written because of what black players do – statistic? yes – coinkydink? not exactly. I have enlighenment that is light-years beyond yours.
Every rule to limit excessive celebrations in the NFL has been written because of what black players do.
I think if it were left up to the white guys, at least the ones I know, we'd leave 'em alone. That stuff is hysterical! Did you see the time Steve Smith (I think) wrapped the ball up in a towel and diapered it like a baby!? Funny stuff... I don't know of a single fan who has ever complained about the "celebrating".
That was so well said...I love it... on another note, are you single???:) Just joking, buy you hit the nail on the head with everything you said.
from a Successful Black woman
Your perspective is pinpoint. Its saddening that the same basis he provides as his argument (Ignorance) Is the exact same flaw in his supposition. I, a poor black kid from West Philadelphia in the 2000's responded back to Mr. Marks' Article. You can read and share it if you like: http://thesquabbleroom.blogspot.com/ Thanks for your time, and keep me and students of the like in your prayers.
While there will never be one single solution for ensuring that poor children are well nourished and well educated, we still have the responsibility to try to accomplish this goal. It does not matter what race, religion, or immigration status. They all need to be taken care of and treated with basic human kindness. Anything less is unacceptable.
I certainly agree with you.
Seems like Thurston has a thin skin (doesn't matter that the skin is black). Perhaps Marks and folks like Newt Gingrich should just realize that black kids don't need advice. They don't need jobs. They need understanding and empathy for the utter hopelessness and inevitable despair of their phenomenological condition, or whatever socialogical mumbo-jumbo is the current fad for caring about black folks.
I've read the article, I've read the rebuttals. Gotta say the original had it correct.
Let me give you a real-life example: I recently completely a project for a 40 year old Lieutenant Colonel with the US Army Reserve who also has a PhD in education and has been a principal at several Philadelphia area high schools (there's that town again). Why Philadelphia? Because that's where he is from.
I was fascinated by this guy to be honest. He came from the very locale that produces thugs, drug-lords, murderers, and the like as if it were a factory assembly line. During the course of this project I discovered that his Dad (a school janitor) had died when he was ten (while holding down 4 jobs). His Mom did whatever work she could find. He graduated high school with honors and is still in college while serving our country somewhere in the Middle East.
I asked him "why did you make it out and the others didn't?" in response to his having told me how many of his school-mates were dead or in prison. He said "I wanted more than I was gonna get without pushing myself. And I quit believing the excuses some of my own race so easily provided me."
Wow. It's just one example, but for all the people making excuses and looking for reasons why he and others shouldn't succeed, he just "did". One last thought: The middle class white guy who wrote this article gave some of the exact same advice the Doctor of Education gives to his own students. And, he's a middle-class black guy who refused to believe that his skin color was a justifiable excuse for having a worthless life.
Excellent post......"he just did." I like that.
great story, Palette.
I'm an upper middle class black kid and I went to one of those elite Philadelphia private schools. Yes they give out scholarships and yes they love diversity but trust me, 99% of the kids that go to those schools can afford it and they're not giving out scholarships left and right. A handful of kids are there on scholarship and to say they go through some extreme culture shock is an understatement. You completely miss the social aspect of what goes on there. I was friensd with a lot of kids from lower income neighborhoods and they flat out said they felt uncomfortable and left out sometimes because they couldn't afford the same things or experiences as everyone else. Most of them changed before and after school so no one in their neighborhoods would see them in their uniforms. Most kids go on some pretty elaborate vacations (I have a friend who's never flown coach in her life), I didn't even know you could buy a pair of jeans for $20 until college, and I thought it was normal to have a few couple hundred dollar designer bags and that $300 was a reasonable price for a bag.
Your comment about the guidance counselor helping kids find a job was laughabe. Most private school kids don't have jobs because they don't need jobs. The only reason I had a job was because my parents wanted to teach me the value of a dollar (and they still gave me $100 a week even when I had a job) and I only kept that job for a few months. Our guidance counselor wouldn't be able to find a kid a job mostly because that wasn't her job, her job was to help us find colleges. Speaking of college, there wasn't a whole lot of discussion when it came to school being expensive. Financial aid and scholarships were a nice to have, not a need to have for most kids and for the few kids where cost was an issue kept quiet about it.
One of my friends said it best, they want diversity...for kids who can afford it. Private schools aren't running charity's, they give a few scholarships out but they're not exactly recruiting kids from West Philly. Not to mention our home lives were completely different. Most of us had everything we could ever want, went away every summer, and took expensive SAT prep classes. Going to college was never an issue of, "Maybe I'll go," it was, "Of course I'm going to college...and grad school." My school has gotten more diverse since I started but make no mistake, the kids may look different, but they all live in the same nice neighborhoods and nice houses and for the most part can't even begin to relate to kids from West Philly. So you saying that kids should just study hard and get a scholarship to a private school is just completely ignorant on so many levels. Some kids get scholarships and do great, some get scholarships and get chewed up and spit out and replaced by someone else because they can't keep up, and some of them are relieved to be able to get out. My Mom grew up in West Philly so I know it is possible to get out and become really successful if you work hard but making it sound like this is something everyone should be able to do is ignoring a lot of realities about what goes on in low income neighborhoods and wealthy suburbs.
One of the best responses thus far.
sounds like a class issue, not a race issue.
Dear Mr. Marks:
The only problem with your article is your perspective. You actually say it all in your statement “What do I know about being a "poor black kid?" Absolutely nothing.” Applying the things that applied in your life experience as a middle-class, suburban white kid to the experience of a poor child OF ANY RACE is completely unrealistic.
You say that “I went to school, so I know about that.” WRONG!! You know about the schools in the middle class white neighborhood that you grew up in. Do you know about schools in inner city neighborhoods. Schools where 10-12 kids share a single text book. Schools where the library has 100 books, not the 8-10,000 that were in your school library. Schools where you are distracted by the sound of guns being fired outside of the gates. Schools where the only available technology is the 12 year old computer in the principal’s office.
1. Study hard and get good grades. Have you ever tried to study when you are hungry? Have you ever tried to study when you live in 3 rooms with 10 other people? Have you ever tried to study when your text book has to be left in school because they don’t have enough texts to allow kids to bring them home.
2. Use technology to help you get good grades. Did you know that there actually ARE NOT libraries with computer access on every block in poor neighborhoods? Did you know that sometimes a poor neighborhood with have a single mini-branch library with only a few hundred books and perhaps 3 or 4 computers to service 40-50,000 people – try getting on that to do your homework.
3. Apply to the best schools you can. Are you aware that in most major metro areas there are several hundred applications for each student slot at the “best schools”. In the LA Unified school district’s magnet school program there are so many qualified applicants for the limited student openings that they use a lottery system meaning that only about 4 out of every 150 qualified kids actually get into the magnet school programs.
4. Get help from a school's guidance counselor. My son attended an outstanding school in the LA area. Nationally ranked, responsive, academically superior, and yet because of budget restraints there was just 1 guidance counselor for every 1200 students. You do the math – 1 counselor x 8 hours per day x 5 days per week x 32 weeks / 1200 students – that’s 1 hour per student PER ACADEMIC YEAR. In most metro schools – Metro- areas, that’s where poor people live – access to guidance counselors is spotty at best.
5. Learn a good skill. Did you know that 1 in 5 2011 graduates remain unemployed, and 3 in 5 are under-employed. Right now the fastest growing employment sector is the health care field, and the fastest growing jobs with that sector are the lowest paid (nurses aid, office/administrative staff and hospital porter) – Jobs that pay minimum wage and generally offer few, if any benefits....bringing that hard working, ambitious poor kid right back to living in poverty... nice circle, eh? But this time he/she has $20,000 in student loans to pay off....
Youre right. There is no hope.
I think you've captured exactly the problem with the original article. He's applying his knowledge to situations that are simply inapplicable. I'm a middle class white woman and even I know that while yes, every single tip he gave was a good one, they just aren't realistic. These kids just don't have these resources. Think about that for a minute. It's not that they don't WANT to be better, or that they CAN'T be better..they. do. not. have. the. resources. Of course that's not true in every case; some people are truly lazy. However, I would say just going on statistics and sheer numbers, at least a good portion of those kids would like to better their lives but do not know how to. They do not know where to start, and the lives they lead do not facilitate the change. Through no fault of their own. While those of us who are middle class, and especially white, are surrounded by people urging us to do better, to be better, to earn higher and learn more, these kids are NOT. they are surrounded by a culture which basically focuses on survival and urbanism. There's not much in the life of an inner-city child encouraging him to even WANT to be better, much less teaching him how. And I'm not saying that there aren't good people in inner cities, of COURSE there are. But the priorities taught to these children is simply – different -.
Does this mean there is no hope, or that we should just hand everything to them? Of course not, that's ridiculous. People don't cherish things that are given to them for free; it must be earned. But for them to even have the opportunity to TRY to earn a better life, we DO have to figure out how to make these resources available to them. Then it's in their hands.
Your perspective is pinpoint. Its saddening that the same basis he provides as his argument (Ignorance) Is the exact same flaw in his supposition. I, a poor black kid from West Philadelphia in the 2000's responded back to Mr. Marks' Article. You can read and share it if you like: http://thesquabbleroom.blogspot.com/
We have so far to go I fear we will never get there....
SSDD. I luv these idiologists who think because we sang a song about all the little children of the world back in the 70s and ever since have tried so hard to integrate everyone (happening in europe too) that some kind of magic nonsense will happen and everyone else will luv everyone else. I'm white middleclass, now, but grew up poor, but I live in a New Mexico town that is majority latino, and they don't like the chicano, and in the middle east the shiite don't like the sunni, and in africa the tutsi don't like the hutu, etc., It is what it is – some of the poor kids get out of there because they figured it out for themselves and did something about it, like I did, and some simply never will. SSDD – 10,000+ years, SSDD.
I think you're right. you read the posts by "Jamie"? scary.
It is very unfortunate, but right now it seems as if poverty is the biggest indicator of future educational success. I recently moved, and did an awful lot of research into the local school districts. I got all of Maryland's MSA scores for every elementary school, and tried to tease out what was the biggest factor for success for these schools. I looked at student teacher ratio, size of class rooms, racial makeup, and a host of other statistics provided by the state. The largest correlation for overall school performance was the number of kids who were on Free and Reduced Meals (FARM), which is the closest thing I could find to an indicator of poverty. Race, class size, none of that mattered – the white kids that were in schools with 50% FARM did just as poorly as the black kids in a similar school. The black kids that went to a school with only 15% FARM kids did exceptionally well, just as well as there white counterparts. So how do we fix this? I wish I knew. What I did notice was a few schools, not many, that really stood out as far as breaking this trend. One school in MD was 90% Latino, 65% FARM, and there scores were off the chart – a really positive anomaly. Who is looking into this school to determine why they are so successful? Surely there are enough instances such as this that could allow us as a society to figure out a way to help kids in poverty succeed.
The things in life that amuse me... Why is it some people can assume to know that they know the answers to the problems of others? After reading this article "If I was a poor black kid"... It made me realize a few things... This article was written to make fun of poor black children and anyone who is not "successful"... The author believes his level of intelligence is so superior that "small minded" people will not see an insult, even if it is addressed to them personally... For All that Understand... Thank Goodness Their Time is up!!!
What would your advice be to an underprivleged black child? Hit the pipe or join a gang kid cause there aint nuthin you can do about it. Life is just so complex you could never figure it out. Dont even bother trying.
what becomes of the poor white kids, and how do they get out?
I was wondering about poor white kids also. When I moved to AR 4 years ago, I realized that people often ignore white poverty. I still know homes where the only source of heat is wood and going to "town" is an event. I wonder what advice Mr. Marks would give poor white kids.
"But the biggest challenge we face isn’t inequality. It’s ignorance. So many kids from West Philadelphia don’t even know these opportunities exist for them." (from the original article)
Indeed the problem is ignorance, Gene...especially from middle aged white guys who come from a middle class white background, who scarcely understand the complexity of this problem.
A Middle Aged White Guy from a Middle Class White Background who used to think like Gene Marks until he saw the problems first hand and realized telling an 6 year old to overcome all his obstacles alone for the next 12 years is embarrassingly ignorant.
P.S. Put down your keyboard, Gene and go live in those shoes for a year (much less 12), then write Part II.
Did you even read the (short) article that you are commenting on??? He doesn't expect them to go it alone.
"Will any of these kids read what I wrote in Forbes? Probably not. I'm hoping that educators, bloggers and most importantly parents do. Because it will be very tough for any kid to do it alone."
Exactly. I'm afraid that people will use me as an example of someone who rose above poverty to get to college, but it's not that simple. Despite my parents being working-class people from Latin America, my father happened to buy property in a nice suburb with some of the best schools in the country without even knowing it. I went to a very well-funded school where the fact that my mother and father were a housekeeper and plumber, respectively, made no difference because we had AP classes, nice computers, and teachers who were well-paid. The fact is, if my father had bought a house a few miles down the road things might have been different. Yes, I worked hard, but that's not all it took. I would like to believe everything I have achieved in life was the result of only my own self-determination, but that's not how life works. I had both parents there and I only worked part-time because I wanted to buy myself a stereo and a car, but I didn't have to work extensively in high school to help support the family. I didn't go to school where a profound sense of desperation overwhelmed students every day. My school acted as though going to college was REQUIRED to get a job and I didn't know any different. That had nothing to do with me and everything to do with how fortunate I was to be born where I was.
-What do I know about being a "poor black kid?" Absolutely nothing.
Then stop talking.
Gene, I like the article I am a 35 yr old Blackman from Illinois. What I think you have to understand is that what you are saying is the way for anyone, not just a poor black child, to succeed. Working hard is the key to all success in any demographic. What the focus should be on is the average children. Why do average white middle class children end up ok with jobs and average poor black children end up in jail! That I would enjoy hearing your thoughts on.
Great response. What other advice would you give young inner city black kid or any disadvantaged kid do to improve their lot? Life really isnt that complicated. You can either wallow in self pity and cry about your lot or you can kick some butt and get ahead in life. You cant really help someone unless they are willing to be helped.
Great response Mr Marks. As a black man, with 2 Masters Degrees and a fairly good income the only issue I had with your original article is that it left out the all important piece of the equation: the parent. Poor Black kids need to do all those things you mentioned, but they have to be helped and steered by a loving and nuturing parent, who also believes those things and not sports, dancing or singing gives them the best chance at success. Black parents attend everyone of their kids sports or other entertaining events, but don't go to PTA, school board or parent-teacher meetings. That says a lot to our children about where our priorities are.
How to win the Nobel Prize in Physics
by Gene Marks
1. Get really smart
2. Use computers a lot. It's amazing how useful they can be!
3. Come up with something important in physics to discover/figure out
4. Discover it or figure it out!
5. Make sure the Nobel Prize people know about it. Maybe send them an email?
This guy is great! Now I know how to become President of the United States!
Oh that's how easy it is! Here you go poor, black child! Get a computer and try harder. That will solve everything. I'd laugh if this was actually funny, but unfortunately Mr Marks seems to be serious.
Mr. Marks, you left one out:
6. Don't be one of the 85% of poverty stricken black children whose mother chose to have a child with a man who would turn his backs on them. The largest indicator of poverty is marital status and 85% of black children in poverty live in mother-only homes.
Stop bringing facts into the discussion, racist!
Love this comment
Mike in SA,
What exactly did you mean by "Don't be one of the 85% of poverty stricken black children whose mother chose to have a child with a man who would turn his backs on them."? Does it mean if you're in that statistics your life is automatically doomed for failure? How what you are saying is related to the article?
Hey, it is his advice. Some may apply and some of his ideas may not be feasible. If one were able to do just half of what he recommended, there would be a degree of success. Having observed two case close to my family, overcoming nutritutional problems, home instability (moving all of the time) and unfit parents are unfortunately three hurdles that no amount of technology can overcome.
As brief as this response is.....I agree.
Here is a real ugly true story
-A kid from one of the poorest neighborhood in America born to high school dropout teen parents (mother 13, father 15)
-Both parents became drug addicts and felons
-Mother had five more children while on drugs
-Mother left five children to be raised by oldest child
-Oldest child drops (more like forced) out of school in the 4th grade
-Oldest child returns to school after a seven year hiatus
-Oldest child graduates in the top 25% of high school
-Becomes a college administrator
The success of this story is because items 1-5 has been put into practice. Challenges give birth to success stories for the strong and determined. But we as a nation all must help identify, guide and mentor our children, this is what a true citizen should do for our communities.
That's the problem Mr. Marks...their parents don't read Forbes nor have the time to do so.!!!!
Does anyone ever foresee a time when we don't need the NAACP?
It has not been needed since around 1980. It is not needed today and it should be abolished. We have an African American President! How much more equality do you want?!?!
Are you serious? WOW!!
You believe because we have a black president racial inequality has gotten better ha ha. In fact, take a look at how this president is being treated by his own collegues and Republican opposition. I understand we as a country are faced with an unpresidented crisis with unemployment and wall that has not been seen before. Indeed I feel that the only reason this president is faced with so much rejection is simply because he has African blood in him. Many whites in this country, particularly the white men don't want to take orders from a person of color. For example, if this was Hillary Clinton in charge I feel the Republican party would have more willing to work with her although shes a female. All in All, we must not forget that this country was on racial inequalities and additionally we're only 45 years removed from the cival rights era. We are moving slowly towards equality, but, I however contend we have a long ways to go and a short time to get there.
Hopefully 1 day after you no longer have to select a 'race' when you are filling out an application of anykind.
BOOORING... the satire was funny, but the issue is a drag! Everyone, get over yourselves!
I think any solution that includes "you have to be lucky" is not a solution, its a gamble. Just as its always been, a small number of poor children will be "lucky" and "special" and will be able to lift themselves from poverty in the manner you describe. The problem is the overwhelming number who will be unlucky and told that they're nothing special in so many ways, so many times that they believe it must be true. They're told they are unlucky and nothing special by the shabby schools, the outdated text books, the lack of technology in their schools, the poor quality of teachers, the uncaring guidance counselors. They're told by their poor living conditions and lack of medical and dental health care. They're told by the images they see on tv and read about in magazines. They're told by people like you who have probably never spoken to or listened to a poor kid. I feel sorry for your middle class children who, despite being born with advantages, STILL have to be pushed to succeed. While you're pushing your kids, how about finding a few deserving "poor black kids," meet them in person, and push (mentor) them to.
A poor, black kid who is now all grown up...and doing well.
Thank you for an eloquent response.Showing that this man has no grasp on the true issue at hand. It is amazing to me how Mr. Marks lives in ignorant bliss.
Outstanding response! Another poor black kid that now holds an engineering degree and an MBA...
You got PWNED, pal. Give it up. You give people like myself...middle-aged white males...a bad rep and should've kept your fat stupid yap shut. Go raise your kids in the inner city if you think it's so easy to overcome it.
Marks made a good-faith effort to try to give useful advice to kids who need it. Even if some of his ideas aren't perfect, that is no reason to respond with derision and cynicism when he's trying to open an honest dialogue.
It's no wonder white people don't want to help. If I got a response like the one Marks received, I'd be inclined to say screw it, I won't bother – they can help themselves.
I can't get past the fact that the leader of the free world is black! Yet black people still say they are discriminated against. I personally believe that they ARE NOT. Some black people just like some white people are simply inferior, but when America voted a Black President in racism officially ended.
Hi Renee and others like you,
So many people think they know and have all the answers. But the fact is you don't. I came from a disadvantaged background and yes I made it out, but so many others didn't. African americans with great grades does not mean great opportunities. A lot of my peers had great grades but our school was weighed differently from the well to do. They are way more obstacles standing in the way of a minority child. Uneducated minority parents don't always know how to get their children the best opportunity because they never had them. I grew up in a all black area where I was taught by white teachers. Some were great and others were horrible because they didn't understand our culture. We were judged and treated as criminals because our teacher didnt understand black children. When we get excited or loud, we are judged as being aggressive. We are taught by teachers who cannot relate to us and put us down in class on a regular basis. My favorite example is how my 4th grade teacher told us that her daughter fears for her life everytime she comes to school to teach us. Now, the children in minority areas are being passed to the next grade and they can't read. Programs are taken away. There are no supplies, technology access, or enough teachers. The good teachers get fired because they don't teach to the 3 or more standardize tests that are given to minority children. Minority children go through so much. My parents and many others would tell their kids they could be anything they want, but the one thing you would never hear would be "President". Yes, Obama is in office but that does not mean racism is over. That is silly. I have seen more racism from not just whites but many other groups since he has been in office. Blacks are not lazy, if there is an opportunity we will seize it but like every race there will always be complacent individuals within.
Interesting and completely ignorant statement to make Mike. I am assuming by that statement that you are WHITE and therefore have no idea what it is to be discriminated against because of your skin color. I am a white middle class female and I can tell you that you are dead wrong about that. Racist people exist everywhere and for the black guy who still can't hail a cab or won't get waited on in a bar, I'm sure he'd be interested to hear your thoughts.
You are wrong at least where I live in NYC if a well put together black man is standing next to a slob white man the cabby will most definately take the black customer. it's not racism to not want someone who looks like a gang banger in your car regardless of his or her color. I may have to spend some time in the south but I know too many very high ranking black men to say their is racism
"I am assuming by that statement that you are WHITE and therefore have no idea what it is to be discriminated against because of your skin color. I am a white middle class female and I can tell you that you are dead wrong about that."
So you know what it's like to be discriminated against because of your skin color?
That's BS. Racism did not end with the election of a Black president. As long as there are people of different races there will be some vestige of racism. I believe we have made some strides and had some successes but we have not overcome, yet. Just ask the Hispanic immigrant.
I am sorry, but there is no way that simply having a black president elected equates with the end of rascism. I mean serously, are you kidding me?
No. We are kidding. It absolutely means racism is over. The only racism that exists in America today is reverse racism. Look at your Occupy friends!
Mike & Renee, I was getting ready to respond to that idiotic statement but then I thought, why bother...It's a typical head-in-the-sand, never-been-discriminated-against comment.. Ignorance can be bliss
Really?? Racism no longer exists. Why don't you tell that to the inner city kid who can't afford a school lunch. Thank goodness for Mr. Gingrich. With his help, that kid can now clean his classmates toilets for some self respect. Then, when he is finished, he can go home to his computer, get lightning fast DSL internet, and learn all about technology that will get him into a "good school". After that, that kid can run for President, until Trump and the Tea Party make him prove that he was born in the United States. Mike, I can see why you read Mr. Marks "fish wrap" of a column.
He is 1/2 black, 1/2 white. Another statistic that means nothing?
Racism is 1/2 way over?
Okay, that was a weak joke. I think it was completely over when a redneck from Texas made a black concert pianist the spokesman for America. (Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of State).
Well, if you believe it, I guess it's true. Despite all the studies. We have been fools. We should just turn to Mike for all the answers.
It would have been more accurate for Gene Marks to call his article, "If I Were Telling a Poor Black Kid What to Do."
Bob... Love that statement...
Get good grades in between.... doing all the household duties your mother who works 3 jobs can't do, feeding and caring for your younger siblings, turning down ubiquitous invitations to crime and drugs, dealing with the abuse of over-stressed adults, and – now that you're 14 – getting a job of your own.
Oh, and by the way, getting good grades in your poor-ass public school still leaves you in the dust of the dumbest rich white kids in private school. But just do it. It can't be that hard, right?
Life is hard for everyone. I had a son at 19 and worked and went to college full time so that I could make a life. Worked my ass off. I am sure anyone that has worked hard would agree it was worth it.
Why did this hypothetical Mom have so many kids if she couldn't afford it?
This mom made a poor a choice, had a kid too young, but worked her butt off to make it right. And is now happy and successful.
Was referring to Paula's hypothetical Mom.
It was an insulting article written by someone who has no idea od his subject matter. Someone needs to write an advice column for greedy rich white folks!
What specifically insulted you?
Is it amazing to anyone else how bad this guy missed the point.
Renee's comments are funny..straight out of the Stormfront textbook internet comment guidelines....
as for Mr. Marks, he's still clueless.
What is funny? By all means compose an educated, relevant rebuttal...
This response is basically a "So what?" Or, as a 'poor black kid' might say, "Did I stutter?" You don't give a rip about 'poor black kids,' Mr. Marks. And if you hadn't written that foolish, arrogant essay in the first place, you wouldn't have to pretend like you do.
I say if your poor you should be shot in the head
What about if "your" dumb?
I totally agree with Gene Marks. Why is this a controversial issue. Every upwardly mobile segment of the population had to do this. The best way out of poverty and mental slavery is an insane thirst for higher education/lknowledge and entrepreneurship. Marks provides some technological resources to help. I went to every website he mentioned and i intend to pass this info along to every kid i know. It's time we emphasize education over entertainment.
This article does nothing to address the complex issues that are barriers to class mobility in this country. This articles from the economist http://www.economist.com/node/15908469 is a much more researched read on the issue. Anectdotal evidence is good for travel and food articles but this is a serious issue that deserves serious thought and this is just not serious!
great economist article. thanks!
I agree with you. I believe education is the key to everything. But that's not the point that's being made here. Poor children, black, white, or blue, lead a very different life than their middle class counterparts. More often that not, their parents (assuming they have more than one) hold down more than one job and the kids are left on their own. They battle violence, gangs, and drugs. Most are underfed and are just trying to keep their head above water in the culture they find themselves in when they leave the classroom. I'm not sure reading that chapter due for English class the next day is high on their list of priorities. In theory, Marks' article sounds fabulous. In theory, so does communism. $200-$300 for a computer? Are you out of your mind? Do you not realize that it would be a dream come true for a lot of families to come up with that kind of cash so that they could put more food on the table or buy more heat for the winter? Technology and education are very much keys to success...but that's the whole point...the one you're missing.
*sigh* This dude still don't get it.
It is all about choices. Maybe the majority of African Americans struggle so much because the majority of African Americans make poor choices. Consider this: the average age in which an African American woman has her first child is 21, compared to white women who have their first child around 26. Most 21 year olds are not ready to handle a child and therefore are dependent on the state for welfare. Furthermore, statistics have shown that more African Americans are involved in crimes, noteably violent crimes, than all other races COMBINED. I am not meaning to come off as racist, but I grew up economically disadvantages and I choose to be successful, therefore I was. If I had made poor choices and let my odds overcome me, I, too, would be unsuccessful. I know many other African Americans who were economically disadvantaged and through smart decisions managed to make something of themselves. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the majority of African Americans make extrememly poor choices, and consequently are not successful and are poor.
Look at Hurricane Katrina, in just 2 days thousands of African Americans turned a shelter in to a war zone complete with rape, murder and other violent crimes. If you are upset with the status of African Americans, blame these African Americans for giving you and your race a bad reputation.
Check your data again....majority of "REPORTED AND FRONT PAGE" crimes are committed by African Americans. The media thanks you for buying into that. The fact is, most crimes are not committed by African Americans. Crimes are crimes, violent or not. A crime is a crime is a crime. There is no white and black, just crime. There are crimes committed on wallstreet and in the government everyday, all day. You do know that wallstreet and the government are not overwhelmingly filled with African Americans, right? Those crimes may not be violent, but they do hurt someone in the end. Also, this country was built on crime. The Europeans came in and violently rediscovered land already discovered by the Native Americans. Oh how we like to forget about that and sweep it under the rug. Watch Bowling For Columbine, do some more thorough research of your own, not what the media reports and then base your facts and stats off of that.
Siyan, by all means please go ahead and do your research. African Americans commit more crime than any other race. You hardly have to research that to figure that one out, simply walk in to your local prison... but to prove my point...
... and what are you talking about? This country was built on crime??? European settlers were 'peacefully' settling here for many years before the Indians waged war on the Eurpeans. Get your facts straight before commenting.
Anytime you say, "I am not meaning to come off as racist, but...", you probably are racist.
Not really. I am stating statistics. I just say that because our society is too politically charged and if you say something negative, true or not, you come off as racist.
PS- White and married to an African American, most of my opinions/viewpoints come from him. He is a pretty legit source. ;)
You're white and married to a black guy so you're the best source? Are you kidding me? You're the worst kind of racist, the one who thinks she can't be racist because she's some black guy's trophy.
Renee, did you just imply that the Native Americans had let the statute of limitations expire on their ability to fight back against the European settlers who came to what is now the US? However long it took before the native people here took up arms against encroachment of their ways and lands, it still stands that these were THEIR lands. To put it in grade school vernacular: they were here first.
The rest of your comments about African Americans, bad choices, and hurricane refugees are racist in that you imply that there are distinctive hereditary factors that endows an entire people with inferior capabilites. It doesn't merit intelligent response.
How are they racist? It's factual. It is what it is. And please quit trying to blame our current society on something that happened so long ago. I didn't say the Native Americans weren't wronged, but there isn't much we can do about it now, furthermore, I do wish some African Americans would quit throwing slavery white people's faces. I am sure many white agree slavery is disgusting, and we cant help what happened years ago when we weren't here. Just move on, be self siffucient and quit asking for handouts (that goes to everyone, black or white, looking for an excuse as to why they are not successful).
Can everyone stop giving Renee a platform for her Sara Palin like views... based on dumbness and oh my god, wait her black husband, who must know everything. If he is telling her this stuff then we all know she is married to Clarence Thomas or Herman Cain. Why are you entertaining this? There are more white people on welfare than black people, that has already been researched, and the drugs run more rampant in the suburbs, than in the inner city (not crack of course, but heroin, oxy, etc) with white teens from two parent families, but it's never reported to Dept of public health because they are using private insurance for rehab, abortions, and other ailments like anorexia..so it would not be included in these half ass statistics Renee keeps trying to spew from...
Lastly when someone says" the majority of African american people are struggling because" they have already shown themselves to be a racist. Where else would a blanket statement like that come from..The same person that says, "my best friend is black"...Hilarious...
Well since we are going to talk statistics, haven’t statistics also proved racism still exist? Like the following:
People of color are disproportionately targeted by police.
Among persons over age 24, Blacks (11.2%) were significantly more likely to be pulled over while driving than Whites (8.9%).
Among drivers stopped for speeding, Blacks (75.7%) and Hispanics (79.4%) were more likely than Whites (66.6%) to be ticketed
Police were more likely to conduct a search of the vehicle and/or driver in traffic stops involving Black male drivers (15.9%) or Hispanic male drivers (14.2%), compared to White male drivers (7.9%).
Blacks (5.2%) and Hispanics (4.2%) stopped by police while driving are more likely than Whites (2.6%) to be arrested.
And it gets better…
Blacks are more likely to be sentenced to prison for the same crime than Whites. One third of people of color sentenced to prison would have received a shorter or non-incarcerative sentence if they had been treated in court the same way as White defendants facing similar charges.
Hispanics and Blacks who have no prior criminal record are far more likely to be incarcerated than White defendants with no criminal record. Hispanics are twice as likely as Whites to face prison time instead of probation, a fine, or time in a county jail
Black youth are more likely to be detained than White youth. Moreover, Black youth with no prior admissions were six times more likely to be incarcerated in a juvenile facility than a White youth with a similar history. Latino youth were three times more likely to be imprisoned.
so....Renee what's your view on these stats????
Gene Marks Why is it okay for YOU to remain so ignorant. You admit you don't know anything about being a black poor student but you feel PRIVILEGED to write about them? Why? So that others may "under"-stand them like you do? Mr. Thurston raised some good points because he KNOWS SOMETHING ABOUT IT! Why in your response do you still feel it is okay for you to profer and opinion? With you limited experience and lack of critical thinking (you don't even value it, apparently) how is it that YOU are a major contributor to Forbes. Why should black kids learn a good skill when it is the unskilled that are hired. The grandfathering in of people like you is what has crashed the economy and continues to ruin the country. As my mother would say, you need to sit down somewhere and hush!!!!!
Are we talking about the same article here? All he said was
1. Study hard and get good grades.
2. Use technology to help you get good grades.
3. Apply to the best schools you can.
4. Get help from a school's guidance counselor.
5. Learn a good skill.
I know an Asian family who grow up in Oakland living in poverty with both parents working. Yet their 5 kids went to UC and Cal State schools. Their high school has a drop out rate of 52% and yet they succeed? This has nothing to do with luck but rather hard work. If strange alien beings from Alpha Centauri were to give me advice in good faith, I would listen and not slam them for being ignorant. As to your comment about "Why should black kids learn a good skill when it is the unskilled that are hired", I have to disagreed. I work at an engineering firm and we hire very skilled worker without regard to race. In fact, most of our engineering staff are members of the minority. I applaud Gene Marks for writing this article and I believe in his sincerity.
You still don't get it. Exceptional people only prove the exception. If you're middle-class and have more support than underprivileged people, you only have to be mediocre and you can still remain in the middle class. Does everyone from the middle class become a millionaire if they "work hard enough"? No. The fact is that you cannot just "work hard" to rise from the lower class. Sometimes you work as hard as you can and you've basically raised your hourly pay from $7 to $10. For every "bootstraps" story there are millions more of people stuck, because not every one is exceptional.
Please read this article, and maybe you will find your empathy: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/12/a-muscular-empathy/249984/
Yes, we read the same article but very obviously applied different level of critical analysis to it. I would say to you that just like Mr. Marks who researched none of the complexities of being poor, access to education, blah, blah you do not know the myriad of factors that contributed to the success of the Asian family you "know". There are a number of critical factors that we know contribute (note: not guarantee) to success (we are also assuming that we mean the same thing when we say success – i mean financially comfortable, happy and a contributing member of society – all of those factors? some of them? still sluccessful?) Marks dealt with NONE of them and only offered supposition and opinion. I think at the least I would agree with the poster who says that if 'luck' is part of the solution, it is not a solution.
I also find the irony of privilege in the fact that though he knows little (presumably a result of relying on wikipedia and cliff notes to get by in school) he still is allowed to lead with poorly researched, sloppily constructed articles at Forbes magazine. Will continue to read this mag only when necessary, for humore and only at the dentist's office. Not a publication to be taken seriously.
BTW – you are not hiring engineers based on 'sincerity' are you? I hope not. Don't you think a writer should have some knowledge of the subject matter (he has admitted his ignorance we don't have to make that case, right?) and some writing skill (i teach writing and critical thinking and this would not pass my muster in the classroom)?
AAND....You are able to work in such a diverse environment in the filed of engineering largely due to the activism and advocacy of NSBE. They assume that all kids want to better themselves and actually put their paychecks and time on the line to ensure the next generation of black engineers. If not for these efforts it may be hard for a poor black kid to even understand that engineering is a profession.
"2. Use technology to help you get good grades." Do you not realize that some of the poorest kids don't have access to technology? You should go check out Donors Choose nd search through Technology to see all of the items that schools are lacking and need. Often times it's not just poor students that need technology in school. http://donorschoose.org/donors/search.html?proposalType=2
I'm a middle class white male as well and even I can see that poor children of any race most likely would not have access to technology.
I agree with you that poor children do not have access to technology and resources that others do. On that note, I do still think it is a choice to be successful or not. Assuming the child chooses to stay away from crime, stay in school, not have children as a teenager, they really can make something of themselves.
Regardless if you're married to an African American, some of your remarks have racial overtones. Based on your comment above, you said " I do still think it is a choice to be successful or not."Do you honestly believe that? If that's the case, why are some many education Americans out of work today? Furthermore, because you are married to an Afican American do not exempt you or your spouse from being a racist. That's like saying because I'm married I won't cheat on my spouse.
What you are saying is way to idealistic and is a narrow-minded simple solution for a extremely complex problem for which there is NO simple solution. If the solution were that simple, no one would be struggling, high schools and colleges would have 100% graduation rates, etc. Having grown up in a more upper class family now working with inner-city youth, it is quite clear how different my childhood was. Simply "trying harder" is a cop out answer.
David, I honestly just disagree. Many people that do not succeed have given up on school, do not have their priorities in order, etc.
Racial overtones. Exactly my point when I said everyone is so politically charged. Please, stating statistics is not racist.
You still don't get it. Exceptional people only prove the exception. If you're middle-class and have more support than underprivileged people, you only have to be mediocre and you can still remain in the middle class. Does everyone from the middle class become a millionaire if they "work hard enough"? No. The fact is that you cannot just "work hard" to rise from the lower class. Sometimes you work as hard as you can and you've basically raised your hourly pay from $7 to $10. For every "bootstraps" story there are millions more of people stuck, because not every one is exceptional.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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